Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Shot soldier's body armour praise - BBC

A soldier has survived being shot in the back by a high calibre bullet while on patrol in Afghanistan.

Welsh Guard Daniel Collins said he was left in agony but credits his body armour with saving his life.

The 26-year-old from Cardigan was taking part in operations in southern Helmand Province when he and colleagues came under fire from insurgents.

He said it was like "being hit by a sledgehammer" but escaped with major bruising to his lower back.

Lance Sergeant Collins of the 1st Battalion, Welsh Guards, is on a six month tour of Afghanistan.

He said they were coming under sporadic fire from insurgents at the end of a day's clearance operation.

"I knelt down in an irrigation ditch in partial cover when I was hit in the back by a single shot. It must have been from about 200-300 metres away," he said.

"The round knocked me down in an instant, it felt like being hit by a sledge-hammer at full swing. I slammed into the dirt face down."

He said he shouted to his platoon sergeant that he had been shot.

"At this point everybody was on their belt buckles in the ditch. The shot had initiated very accurate machine gun and small arms fire onto our position. We were pinned down.

"I was in agony, I certainly couldn't walk on my own. But they had to get me out of the ditch. I was pulled out by some of the other lads, and stumbled between two of them to the helicopter landing site."

The bullet had passed straight through the day-sack he was carrying on his back.

"I was expecting the worst," he added.

But when a colleague unclipped his body armour for a full inspection he could not find any blood.

"I was in shock and replied, 'what are you talking about!?'

"He lifted up my shirt, 'you've got a massive bruise on your back' and then continued with a grin, 'I can't believe you said you'd been shot!"

He was air-lifted to Camp Bastion hospital.

"The bullet hit the very bottom right-hand side of my ceramic body armour back plate, literally right at the edge.

"Any lower and the doctor said that it would have gone straight through me, hitting my kidneys.

"I think it was a 7.62mm round. That's a high calibre bullet to be hit by, but it shows you that the body armour works.

"I wouldn't be sat here now if I wasn't wearing one. Thank you to whoever designed the body armour. If I ever meet them, I'd like to buy them a pint.

"I hope to be back with my section and the lads at the patrol base by the end of the month."

Lance Sergeant Collins has served with the Army for almost 11 years.

A former pupil of Ysgol Gyfun Emlyn in Newcastle Emlyn, his mother, Deana, and sister, Megan, still live in Cardigan, while he is based at Lille Barracks in Aldershot.

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